George Hotz became well-known for being the first to come up with an iPhone jailbreak and reverse-engineering the PlayStation 3 gaming console — which led to a widely publicized legal battle with Sony. Capitalizing on his fame, he turned his attention to more ambitious endeavors, building his own aftermarket device to give any relatively modern car advanced autopilot features.
The device, dubbed Comma One, was set to retail at $999 and included front radar sensors and a camera. But after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent Hotz a letter in October asking him to detail how the product works and the steps taken by the company for safety compliance, the project came to an abrupt end. Hotz claimed he would much rather spend his life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers, and that Comma.ai would look to other products and markets.
While Comma One will no longer see the light of day as a market-ready device, Hotz has announced he would be giving away its self-driving software, dubbed Open Pilot, for free. The code and plans for compatible hardware can be found on Github, and according to the description it “performs the functions of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) for Hondas and Acuras.”
It should be noted that the software won’t turn your vehicle into a fully autonomous car. It also requires quite a bit of tinkering as assembling the system requires a OnePlus 3 phone as well as some 3D printing and soldering skills, so it’s mostly geared as an early alpha for hobbyists, researchers, big automakers, and after-market manufacturers to sink their teeth on.
Comma.ai stresses that researchers are responsible for complying with local laws. As noted by Consumerist, an autonomous vehicle isn’t allowed on a public road without a permit that comes with $5 million in insurance, and a demonstrable training program for drivers.